January 2, 2020

As we ring in a new year, the Epstein Community Foundation (ECF) is excited to announce the four $5,000 grant winners of 2019!

  • Human Scale designs and builds small-scale community projects. Every year they design and build at least one project in an impoverished community in Chicago. Last year, they participated in our grant winner project with El Paseo Community Garden in Pilsen. This year, we will be funding The Red Admiral Project. Human Scale will be converting three vacant lots in the Austin neighborhood to create a communal space that is ADA accessible. It will be a community garden to promote healthy food options and to create a productive space for the neighborhood that aims to reduce violence in the area. This project will serve approximately 30 homes that are located in the same street block as the garden. Residents will be able to reserve planter beds to plant their own food, and will be invited to participate in events held by the garden, including yoga, cooking seminars and healthy eating classes. Additionally, there is a church and daycare within minutes of the garden which will use the space to host certain events and activities for their members. This space will provide a safe, educational, and aesthetically pleasing area for members of the community.
  • Science & Entrepreneurship Exchange (SEE) runs an immersive education program that empowers 4th and 5th grade students to imagine their futures as engineers in a program called SparkShop. SparkShop has developed an innovative program structure that shares the teaching responsibility between SparkShops staff and the classroom teachers, while transforming classrooms into dynamic makerspaces. The experience kicks off with two high-energy sessions led by our staff of former female industry engineers, followed by curriculum provided to classroom teachers. Additionally, SparkShop provides all machinery and consumables, ensuring that all schools receive the same excellent experience, regardless of their resources. SparkShop runs in-school programming, which allows us to reach students who might not have opted-in to engineering programs on their own. We provide all A/V equipment, teaching tools, and consumables, to be able to transform any classroom into an engineering lab. ECFs grant will provide two classrooms with the SparkShop program in the Spring of 2020.
  • Chicago Mobile Makers offers free and low-cost youth workshops encompassing design, architecture, digital fabrication, basic construction and place-making in Chicago communities. In the last year, we engaged more than 500 youth, held more than 100 workshops, and served ten different neighborhoods. Last year, ECF helped purchase a retrofitted step van to take the workshops into the neighborhoods. This year we will help outfit the van with all it needs to take the classroom on the road. The van is a classroom, tool shop, design studio, gallery, community gathering space and provides plenty of storage for tools, writing and drawing utensils, laptops and larger machinery like laser cutters and 3D printers. There is some desk space inside, but the Makerspace is made to spill out and activate unused space. Workshops can be held anywhere from an empty parking lot to a summer street festival. Mobility and accessibility are integral to the success of our mission. We hope to have the van visit the office later this spring so they can show everyone the great work they are doing for Chicagos youth.
  • Territory NFP is a design-based creative youth development organization providing skill building programs in urban design for young people ages 14-19. Since 2012, they have worked with over 300 youth in studio programs lasting six to ten weeks. ECF will be helping to fund the Territory Urban Design Team-Austin. During this summer program, Chicago teens will re-imagine and re-claim public spaces using design. The surrounding community will benefit in three ways: local teens will be employed and trained to practice urban design; the teens will be working together to address an issue, site, or design challenge that is important to Austin and they will identify this issue using their own expertise, and through surveys of their community; and the final project will be a conversation starter for more permanent solutions based on what the team has learned.

Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word about the grants and congratulations to these winners! We are excited to work with each organization throughout the coming year.

The Epstein Community Foundation is a charity devoted to empowering people to improve their lives through a commitment to developing partnerships with communities. All proceeds from the event will go directly to fund projects supported by the ECF.